Career Opportunities- Historic Preservation
Below is a sample of possible career paths for students pursuing a degree or certificate in Historic Preservation:
Local, State, and Federal Agencies
Careers at the local level include positions in city and county preservation, planning, tourism, natural resources, and economic development offices. At the state level, jobs include those within the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Maryland Historical Trust, and agencies like the highway or transportation, economic development, tourism, natural resources, and planning. Many of these positions are focused on preservation planning and the management of cultural resource projects under both state and Federal laws (such as Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act). As all Federal agencies are required to have a preservation officers, jobs within the Federal government range from the National Park Service to agencies that manage large tracts of land and resources, such as the Department of Defense (military bases), Bureau of Land Management, and the General Services Administration (Federal office buildings), to the many smaller Federal agencies. These jobs demand familiarity with federal, state, and local laws and guidelines related to preservation of cultural resources as well as a wide and flexible range of skills across the discipline. Preservation offices tend to be small, requiring the staff to be flexible and prepared to wear many hats.
Cultural Resource Management Firms
These positions tend to be focused on either management or fieldwork activities, and engage in identifying and preserving both architectural and archaeological resources. The types of projects tend to be those that are required under various laws (like Section 106 referenced above). For example, a project might include the survey and assessment of architectural and/or archaeological sites within the right-of-way of a planned highway. This type of project might actually be overseen by a preservation professional within the transportation department and later reviewed by a preservation staff member at the SHPO office. These jobs vary from fieldwork and documentation to report writing and presentation. There is a wide range of cultural resource management firms, starting with small single or several person organizations and expanding to large, multi-national firms that provide these services as a part of their overall practice in architecture, planning, and engineering (examples include Commonwealth Cultural Resources Group, Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc., The Louis Berger Group, and John Milner Associates). In addition, there are many university-based CRM units, such as the William and Mary Center for Archaeological Research and the Office of Contract Archaeology at the University of New Mexico.
These positions tend to be related to advocacy and land or resource management non-profits such as city or statewide preservation organizations (Preservation Maryland) or resource focused groups like the Civil War Trust or the Piedmont Environmental Council. Perhaps the best known of these non-profit organizations is the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Jobs in this arena include management, lobbying, granting and preservation services, property management, policy and legal research and support, and preservation education to name a few. There are also land trust organizations that own and manage historic resources, either directly or via easements (for example, the Nature Conservancy and the Archaeological Conservancy). Skills in land management, planning, and cultural landscape analysis and preservation are sought by employers.
Architectural and Planning Firms
Many architectural firms now specialize in the restoration, renovation, or adaptive use of historic structures (for example, Quinn Evans Architects in Washington or Design Collective in Baltimore). As the movement toward a more sustainable built environment grows, more and more of this type of work is being planned and executed. While these firms often look for individuals with architecture and preservation degrees, many firms are now hiring preservation specialists with MHP degrees to help them navigate the myriad regulatory and legal challenges of this work. For example, the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit program is big business and these projects can run into the tens of millions of dollars; thus, firms and investors want to expedite these projects by hiring preservation professionals who can guide them through the bureaucracy.
Museum and Historic Sites
Many property holding museum organizations employ preservation professionals in jobs related to site management and preservation. Organizations from Colonial Williamsburg, Mount Vernon and Historic New England, to the many small historic house museums across the country have needs for preservation professionals to perform research, plan and manage preservation projects on their properties, as well as for executive director or curator positions at smaller sites.
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